Friday, February 13, 2009

Winter scenes...

Just a few weeks ago, before our brief thaw, I headed out into the ice cold temps to take a few pictures. I like to imagine what lies beneath the snow, what's waiting to grow. At the same time, I often find some beauty in the ice and snow. I live in Wisconsin, after all, by choice, and I love winter; it gives me a reprieve from my obsession with gardening to focus, edit, and make better choices for the next season, not to mention, time to rest my back.

Here's the stems of two clematis and one hefty trumpet vine, cased in ice.

The icicles and the back porch.

The veggies bed, and it's low fence are not visible at all under the snow, for months at a time.
My dog loves the snow. This is my companion, Laura Jane Bush.
Here's a close-up of the back porch birdbath fountain, and the blue wagon. Ice, snow, and more ice.

After a brief thaw, and record high temps in the 50's over a week ago, I wandered out to see what lie beneath the now melted snow. I found this primrose full of promise.

This sedum 'angelina' alive and beaming.

You may have to click on this picture to enlarge it, but this lady sits atop a bed of bronze heuchera, still nicely colored and evergreen beneath the snow.

Lysimachia 'creeping jenny' looks as though its been growing and spreading all winter under the layer of leaves and snow.

And here's the scene of a crime. Those blasted rabbits got my 'Elsa Spath' clematis right at the base. It took me years to get her this big, and I didn't plan on hard pruning her like this any time soon. I'm hoping her strong root system sends up a big strong new large plant soon.
During the thaw I took my children on a walk through the puddles (today, these puddles are all ice or no where to be found).

All the warm weather has me way too excited for a still-far-off spring. To quell the madness I've been reading magazines and getting catalogs. Thanks to the catalogs I placed two online orders. I spent less than $3 dollars redeeming a free $25 off any-size order at Breck's. I ordered one Queen of the Prairie at about $9.99, and one Chocolate Cosmos at about $9.99,
My mom and I spotted Queen of the Prairie in a magazine article years ago, and it took us a good year to identify it, and then another year to actually find it in this catalog.
The astrosanguinea has been on my wishlist for 2 years also. I saw it in person in the gardens of Cambria Pines Lodge last August and decided this spring, I would move it up on the wishlist to #1. I simply have to have it. Last year I looked in every darn nursery in our area finding it only once, and it was $20 as a root that didn't look promising, so I passed it up. So, $9.99 in this catalog totally sold me. Once tax and shipping were applied only owed $2 and some change. How's that for a frugal tip?
I love the idea of this $25 coupon b/c it gives me a chance to test drive the company. I'm so skeptical about ordering online/catalog plants. I ordered two roses from David Austin last year, and one was a complete dud, and the other is still less than impressive. And that's David Austin, the king of roses. Thankfully DA will be replacing the dud rose this spring, no cost. I hope to have an overall more positive plants-by-mail experience this year.
In addition to my recent order at Breck's, last week I also spent less than $25 at High Country Gardens, purchasing a "Blue Lips" Penstemon and a Salvia Azurea. These are two blues I can't find here, but have had on my wishlist since last spring.
Both orders will not ship until after May 1st, which seems like a 100 years away.

Meanwhile, I sketched where these new beauties will go! A few weeks ago I shared with you my 3 major plans to curb spending and still get what I want in the garden this year. One of my major undertakings will be sprucing up the street side of my house. I live on a corner, and our "back"yard is to the right of our front door, while a dead end street is on the left hand side of our house. I have neglected to develop the street side of the house, and plan on adding an arbor, some roses, and perennial beds along a walkway.
I wanted a plain, simple, affordable walkway arbor to deck out in hardy climbing roses. The only major requirement was for the arbor to be at least 49 inches wide to fit around the cement walkway there. After we figured what it would take to build an small walkway arbor ourselves I wanted to make sure there wasn't one in a store suitable for less. I found what I was looking for at Menard's. It was clearance priced at $69, possibly left over from last season. It's white, and has a curved top.
For another $10 at Hobby Lobby I found a turquoise ceramic ball to complete the scene.
I checked with the local nursery and they will have both William Baffin and Ramblin' Red roses in stock this spring again.
The new arbor shape, coupled with the plants I've ordered, and the list of plants in my garden ready for division, I drew something up. Some of the plants here are already in place, from previous bargain purchases. :)

On another totally random topic. I think I shared our newest cat with you last summer; we picked her up a local perennial farm from their barn cats' litter. Her names, Tabatha, and she's the wildest thing on wheels in this household. She's not yet fixed, and she seems to be in heat all the time. She wastes no time trying to get outside. One night, late she got out, and would not come back in. She spent the night outside, and in the morning our dog raced after her, treeing her. Yup, she climbed out front tree to escape the dog. LOL! Silly, crazy cat,
Happy garden dreaming.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Blue blooms in my dining room.

Just wanted to share these gorgeous blooms with you. I have both of these blossoms in my dining room window today, and let me tell you... they are taking away the winter blues, for sure.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Keeping busy, the anticipation of spring is intense!

With the arrival of gardening magazines on racks, and the garden section of the stores coming to life, my anticipation for spring is intensifying. And only increasing as the days go by. I've picked up a few magazines to spawn ideas, and I've been sketching in my journal almost every day, budgeting, and planning. Dreaming, mostly.
Today, our local temps broke a record set in the late 1800's, toppping out at 56F!
We grilled out, and opened up some windows. The spring fever subsided a bit. I jumped at the chance to roam out in the garden a bit. The bad news first: the rabbits are raising hell! They chewed right through one of my favorite clematis and have made my roses look like they were passed through a shredder! The good news? If winter ended today I'd still have several inches of green cane on even my most tender roses. I guess the snow cover has been protecting the roses. We have no snow left now... so I have to pray and hope that the temps don't dip too extreme (0F and lower) from here on out.

This is all miraculous b/c we had actual temps dip down to -20F already this winter. Thank God for snow cover!
So, on my stroll around the yard today, under the layer of leaves and muck I found dozens of perennials that never even died back... including several ground covers, campanula, and even a pansy! I covered them all right back up and hope to see them again in about 2 months. I Hope.
I also started removing the dead leaves from last year's roses. Disease can spread rampant if I leave the leaves on the plants through spring.

As far as the rabbits go: Off I went to the local home improvement center and bought some chicken wire. I made little tubes of chicken wire, just circles about 12 inches around, and wrapped my most damaged roses, as well as all the clematis I think are at risk to rabbit damage. My husband bought a live trap, too. So we can relocate the rabbits to the woods. They're pretty out of the control in my yard... I could build you a whole house out of rabbit turd pellets. Any takers?

Earlier this week I made my first trip to the local nursery, and got a good dose of warmth from the greenhouse. I brought home a rosemary plant, and I'm determined to keep it alive, atleast through the summer. I also fell for a baby tears. I'll have to take a picture of the container I put it in, I think it looks so cute.

My seed collection has begun, as I strolled through Kmart to find all their new seeds 40% off (GOOD DEAL!). I have brought home tons of seed packets, including morning glory, nasturiums, radishes, lettuces, peas, lavender, cosmos, turnips, and the list goes on and on. See my seed basket?

Madness, I know.

Well, I made the mistake of strolling into the local farm and fleet. I was secretly hoping they'd have summer bulbs out, as I'm itching to replace all the dahlia's I lost last fall to mold. Instead, I found seeds (25% off, not bad), and a plastic greenhouse for $39.99. Not a bad deal, and definately something I think will work for starting seeds and bulbs on the back porch in March. Last year my entire dining room table, and surrounding areas, including chairs were covered in seedlings and starts.

I am feeling so excited about the greenhouse, which I plan to tend to vigourously, keeping all disease at bay, circulating air frequently, etc. I have never tried to start my tomatos, cukes, or squash from seed. I always buy nursery starts. This year, I decided to try to start it all from seeds right here in my green house.
I've been quelling the need to buy plants by looking at the garden stuff in the stores. My favorite place is Hobby Lobby. This last week I found these gorgeous metal corner decorations I plan on using in the entry to my garden. Guess how much they were each? $4. Yup.
And indoors, my hyacinth are blooming. They smell incredible! Such a treat to grow these in the house to stop the midwinter blues. ;)
Happy gardening everyone!